Survey of 1 CorinthiansBook Type: The New Testament's second Pauline Epistle; the seventh book of the New Testament; the forty-sixth book of the Bible.
Author: Paul, along with Sosthenes, as noted in 1 Corinthians 1:1. Sosthenes was most likely acting as Paul's secretary (also called an amanuensis), writing down Paul's words. This may also be the same person mentioned in Acts 18:17.
Audience: Paul wrote to Gentile Christians living in Corinth. This letter was sent a few years after he personally founded the church in that city. These believers were condemned for pride, sexual immorality, misuse of spiritual gifts, and misunderstanding various Christian beliefs such as the Lord's Supper.
Date: AD 55, perhaps in the first half of the year while Paul was still in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8–9).
Overview: First Corinthians includes sixteen chapters which fall loosely into seven sections. After a brief introduction, Paul emphasizes disunity in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:10—4:21). His teachings called them to return to the unity they had when he first founded the church (1 Corinthians 1:10—3:23), while also emphasizing the importance of serving one another (1 Corinthians 4).
The second section addresses the difficult topic of sexual immorality within the church as well as lawsuits between believers (1 Corinthians 5—6). Chapter 5 specifically addresses a believer who was having sexual relations with his stepmother, while the church tolerated the practice.
The third section discusses the importance of marriage among Christians (1 Corinthians 7). Paul provides guidelines both for those single and married, as well as details related to divorce to answer questions that had surfaced among the believes in this congregation.
The fourth section develops the concept of Christian liberty within the church (1 Corinthians 8:1—11:1). Chapter 8 addresses food sacrificed to idols. Chapter 10 addresses the sin of idolatry.
The fifth section transitions to problems within the worship gatherings of the church (1 Corinthians 11:2—14:40). Three major areas are addressed. First Corinthians 11:2–16 discusses the roles of men and women in church. First Corinthians 11:17–34 corrects the wrongful ways in which these believers were practicing the Lord's Supper, and offers positive alternatives. Chapters 12—14 address spiritual gifts, adding the famous "love chapter" of 1 Corinthians 13 to address the most important gift of all.
The sixth section focuses on the hope of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). Paul discusses the appearances and evidences for Christ's salvation, followed by a discussion of the future resurrection of believers.
The seventh section includes Paul's closing words to the church (1 Corinthians 16). He addresses their plans for financial gifts (1 Corinthians 16:1–4) as well as his own personal plans with hopes to visit them again in the future.
Key Verses (ESV):
1 Corinthians 3:3: "For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"
1 Corinthians 6:19–20: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
1 Corinthians 10:31: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 13:4–7: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
1 Corinthians 15:3–8: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me."